Legislators are currently working to find any excuse to avoid funding a permanent raise for teachers and school employees this session. The truth is simple: the funding is available! The only question is whether or not legislators are willing to make teachers and school employees a priority.
In an election year, lawmakers like to brag about the increases to teacher and school employee pay passed in recent years. Still these marginal increases haven’t kept up with neighboring states. Louisiana has continued to fall further behind the Southern Regional Average for teacher pay. Moreover, Office of Group Benefits (OGB) premium increases have outpaced raises passed by the legislature. Last year, teacher and support staff pay was increased by an average of 3%, but OGB increased rates by 4.5%. This is on top of the rising cost of living which impacts educators every time they buy groceries for their families or pay for a tank of gas.
Two weeks down: seven to go!
This week, LFT President Larry Carter testified before the House Appropriations Committee about the importance of passing a significant raise during this session.
His remarks focused on the experiences of Louisiana’s teachers and school employees. Our latest survey results revealed ninety-seven percent of teachers and ninety-eight percent of staff felt that they did not make enough to raise a family. Ninety-one percent of teachers said that the statewide pay raises they received in recent years were less than increases in cost of living and almost eighty percent said they’ve been completely absorbed by the rise in insurance premiums. Eighty-four percent of teachers and two-thirds of staff said they have considered leaving their current position. Thirty-seven percent of teachers and staff are working at least one other job.
The Legislative Session began April 10th. It kicked off with John Bel Edwards’ final State of the State address. One of the first things he mentioned was the importance of passing a $3,000 raise for teachers and $1,500 for school support staff. This is an extra $1,000/$500 more than what is in the MFP that the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) passed in March. Ultimately, the raise for teachers and school employees that is funded in the final legislative budget must match the amount allocated in the final MFP, which is the funding formula for Louisiana public schools.
This year, SCR 2 (Fields) is the legislative instrument for the MFP. The legislature can decide to pass the MFP as it currently stands, or they can vote to return the MFP back to BESE for amendments. The legislature cannot change the MFP, they can only vote yea or nay on SCR 2.
State Superintendent Cade Brumley testified before the House Appropriations Committee last week and the Senate Finance Committee this week to discuss his plan for teacher raises; the plan currently outlined in the MFP. Brumley wants the legislature to pass a $2,000 raise for teachers and $1,000 for support staff. Additionally, he wants the legislature to approve $60 million to give certain teachers a $1,000 stipend. This stipend would go to teachers in certain schools or subjects, or those deemed "high performing," to be determined by the local school board
This March the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education finalized their MFP Proposal – the funding formula for Louisiana Public Schools. LFT president Larry Carter testified before the board, highlighting the concerns of thousands of educators across the state who often consider leaving their job because of low pay and substandard working conditions. He asked the Board to improve upon what was recommended by the MFP Task Force and the Louisiana Department of Education (LDOE) and boost funding for teacher and school employee raises. He asked the board to pass a raise of at least $4,000 for teachers and $2,000 for school support staff.
With little discussion and no debate, the Board passed the MFP proposal recommended by LDOE. This MFP proposal would give teachers a $2,000 raise as well as certain teachers a $1,000 stipend (the stipend would apply to teachers who are in a critical shortage area, rated highly effective, working in high needs schools and/or those working as part of the teacher leadership team). Despite some media reports, this is not a $3,000 pay hike. A stipend isn’t guaranteed from one year to the next and it could be taken away for any number of reasons.
This week, the Minimum Foundation Program (MFP) Task Force met to consider the 2023-2024 funding formula for Louisiana public schools. This task force makes a recommendation to the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) about how to moderate the formula to provide for raises and/or school funding.
Next week, BESE will consider this recommendation and determine how large of a raise to include in their MFP proposal before sending it to the legislature for approval.
Learn more about what happened and how we can work together to push BESE to increase your raise.
Last year, the Louisiana Legislature passed HB 156 (Frieberg) – now Act 745. It was a bill brought by the Louisiana Department of Education (LDOE) that allows the department to essentially put a tax on our state’s teachers. Teachers would have to pay the LDOE to run the same background check multiple times. The fee would apply to all current and future teachers at the time of certification or recertification, in addition to the background checks teachers already get when they become student teachers and those that the district runs when they're hired.
Today, Governor Edwards released his proposed budget for the upcoming year. This outlines his spending priorities for the state, but it is only the first step. The budget will now go through the legislative process, where legislators will make adjustments to reflect their own priorities. We are pleased to see that the Governor did include pay raises for teachers and school employees in his proposal, but ultimately this amount still falls short of what is needed.
The Governor’s budget calls for a $2,000 increase for certified school employees and $1,000 for support staff, a total investment of
This legislative session we saw an onslaught of damaging bills, aimed at weakening public education and undermining teachers’ voices. Many of our elected legislators who praised teachers as heroes at the beginning of the pandemic are now working to defund schools and micromanage teachers’ lesson plans. Thankfully, many of these bills failed to pass, but make no mistake, these attacks will continue.
This year the legislature approved a $1,500 raise for teachers/certified personnel and $750 for support staff. This is the third pay raise in four years, totaling $3,300 for teachers and $1
Under John White’s tenure, LDOE created this problem by not fully understanding the law and passing a series of legislation that contradicted federal standards as late as 2018.
Now, LDOE is working to pass this legislation that would allow them to process background checks for all current teachers and all future teachers at the time of certification or recertification, in addition to the background checks teachers already get when they become student teachers and when they're hired. This means that new teachers would have to get the same background check three times, and they’d have to pay for it out of their own pocket.
As Dr. Brumley said in his letter, “we should listen to classroom teachers” – so use this opportunity to let him know what you and your coworkers really need to be successful educators.